ACC action here as the Virginia Cavaliers host the Duke Blue Devils. Duke is already 0-2 on the young season, while this is the first game of the year for Virginia. Despite Duke's struggles to open the year, oddsmakers have Virginia as only a modest favorite for this one. It'll be televised by the ACC Network.
Duke 0-2The Duke Blue Devils certainly haven't gotten off to the start they were hoping for this season. After a disappointing 5-7 2019 campaign, hopes were high entering this abridged offseason. But David Cutcliffe's squad has limped out of the gates, losing both of their first two games. That being said, at least one of the losses was very understandable. Duke had to go into South Bend and play #10 Notre Dame on the road in their first game. They actually hung tough with the Fighting Irish most of the way and were only down four points with about ten minutes left in the game.
Clemson wouldn’t have been on a 29-game win streak if it weren’t for Chase Brice’s heroics against Syracuse. Fourth-and-6 will always be legendary. Imagine Clemson fans/coaches hate to see him leave, but salute him as he walks out the door.pic.twitter.com/mWFiWcFebN— Sanders Sullivan (@SandersSullivan) January 16, 2020
Then they lost in embarrassing fashion to Boston College, although I think BC is better than most people realize this year. Duke is starting Clemson transfer Chase Brice at quarterback this year, so there was always going to be an adjustment period on offense. Still, it isn't all negative Brice has shown a good rapport with senior tight end Noah Gray, who had at least 61 yards in each of the first two games. Senior running back Deon Jackson has also looked pretty good, and getting the ground game going will be key here. Duke's run defense has actually been pretty stout, as they just limited Boston College to 2.0 yards per rush attempt.
Virginia's First GameWhile Duke has already piled up two losses, the Virginia Cavaliers have been waiting just to play a game. They were supposed to play rival Virginia Tech in their opener last week, but that game was postponed due to COVID-19 issues. Virginia had a very solid season last year, finishing 9-5 and making it to the ACC Championship Game, where they were crushed by Clemson. Unfortunately, they lost a lot of talent from last year's team, most notably quarterback Bryce Perkins. Perkins was the heart and soul of the team the past couple of years, and was easily their leading rusher as well as passer.
That's obviously a lot of production to replace. They'll also be without Hasise Dubois, their leading receiver from a season ago who had 1,062 yards and six touchdowns. Brennan Armstrong will make his first career start at quarterback, and he's attempted just 25 passes over the past couple of years at Virginia. It's anyone's guess really what he'll look like, and Virginia really could've used that opener against Virginia Tech as a tuneup. This game was originally scheduled for November 14th, but Virginia wanted it to be moved up because of their other postponement. As such, it's fair to question how prepared they will be for this one.
- 1-5 ATS in their last 6 vs. a team with a losing record
Blue Devils are:
- 11-5 ATS in their last 16 games as an underdog
- 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games in September
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
I think Duke is going to cover this number, and they very well may win the game outright. They looked bad against Boston College, but had just played Notre Dame very tough on the road before that. Virginia's schedule has been scrambled due to COVID-19 issues and this will be their first game of the season, so I don't expect them to look prepared. Duke already having two games to shake off the rust is a massive advantage, and the Blue Devils are 11-5 against the spread in their last 16 games as underdogs.
Prediction: Duke +5
Full-Game Total Pick
The under also makes a lot of sense here. Both teams are starting new quarterbacks this season, and Duke only mustered six points against Boston College in their most recent game. Virginia's offense is going to look entirely different, as they're replacing their leading passer, rusher, and receiver from a year ago. While the offense has received a makeover they've actually had a lot of continuity on defense, with 12 of their top 14 tacklers from last year returning. As such I think we see a sloppy offensive game, with the winner scoring only a few touchdowns.